Orange County has a vast equestrian community and is home to several horseback riding schools and rustic horse trails. The OC has enough room for beach goers, amusement park enthusiasts, and everyone in between.
Perhaps horseback riding is your new yoga, or it is how you want to sightsee in Orange County because the thought of another double decker bus tour makes your head hurt. It is possible that riding horses has never attracted your attention and it’s your child that just has an interest in taking riding lessons.
For many, you’ve read that horseback riding is a great body workout and you’ve become bored with your weekly spin class. This sport is amazing because it works simultaneously with your core muscles, inner thighs and tightens all three gluteus muscles.
Horseback riding can be a new family tradition, a relaxing get away from your hectic workweek or a romantic first date. Whatever motive puts you back in the saddle, Orange County says grab the reins and enjoy the ride.
Wild Horses In California?
Did you know that there is a growing population of wild horses that ride and roam the protected lands of golden California? These extraordinary horses are descendants from those brought here by the first Spanish settlers or from domesticated breeds from pioneer farms or ranches.
In 1971 President Nixon passed a law declaring horses were “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.” Today, there are over 7,300 magnificent wild horses thriving on approximately 2.5 million acres of Californian soil.
While Orange County is not on the list for wild horse territory, it is home to the most beautiful and varied horse trails in Southern California. We have a deep wild west history, and every great western story is about a working man and his horse or that of a strong pioneer girl and her loyal, chestnut colored best friend.
OC Horseback Riding Lessons & Trail Rides
Horse Play Rentals
18381 Goldenwest Street, 1107, Huntington Beach, CA
After one trail ride with Tank, the one-time super star cutter horse from Horse Play Rentals, you will easily understand and adopt his blissful motto; “I’m ready for the easy life by the beach”! Having a location just two miles from breaking waves, warm sunshine, and fresh sea air make this place a perfect SoCal destination all year round.
Horse Play Rentals is located inside the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center, in the surf capital of the world. Orange County’s Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center has a 25-acre Urban Forest filled with scenic trails and natural wildlife. Horse Play Rentals is Orange County’s premier location where locals and tourists can visit for exceptional horseback trail riding and lessons. For the last 20 years, Horse Play Rentals has provided fun, authentic horse farm adventures and educational opportunities.
Trail rides along Pepper Trail are relaxing, serene, and surrounded by mountain views and lush landscape. Horse Play Rentals also offers riding lessons, birthday parties, summer camps, horse clinics, and romantic couple rides. Cupcake Birthday Parties are super cute and three guests can enjoy their very own cupcake at a party picnic site and return to the stable for more entertainment. There are plenty of seasonal events that highlight live music and gourmet food and Horse Play Rentals is always adding new highlights to their calendar. A cool addition to their Facebook page is the online lessons and easy craft projects.
Horsemanship Clinics for children 8 years and older are designed to create lifelong memories and a lasting joy for riding. Kids who love horses will learn riding, feeding, bathing, horse anatomy, horse language, leadership, and responsibility. Horse Play Rentals offer weekly Summer Clinics and weekly After School Clinics. Children giggle and are amazed to learn that horses say hello while blowing air into their little palms. There is even a special package for Girl Scout troops. Adults can join in on the fun with weekly Horsemanship Clinics. It’s a great four series class focusing on horse anatomy, behavior, bio mechanics, and basic riding skills.
There are several trail rides that offer excitement and comfort for all levels and interests. Choose a 1hr Trail ride & 45-minute Grooming Clinic available for single riders or two people. It is a great introduction into horse behavior, general care, and horse body language.
Horse Play Rentals goes beyond nature trails. Have you been thinking about celebrating a special occasion or looking for something that is super romantic? Horse Play Rentals has a Romantic Couples Ride and Picnic package. Imagine a one-hour scenic tour around the beautiful Huntington Beach Equestrian Center and a one-hour getaway through the Urban Forest. This two-hour trail ride ends with a romantic picnic near Huntington Lake.
Are you already a frequent rider and want to continue this great hobby? Horse Play Rentals offers a monthly membership that is affordable and flexible. You can even use your membership to bring a guest along with you. If you are thinking of creating spectacular, lifelong memories, book at professional photography session. Make your next special occasion, family portrait or that sensational save the date photo fabulous at Horse Play Rentals.
There is more fun and options at Horse Play Rentals in Huntington Beach. “BYOH” is at Horse Play Rentals! Ladies are you listening? It is a special night for you to “Bring Your Own Horse.” Come join the Ladies Night Ride for a one-hour scenic trail ride. If you don’t own your own horse, of course you can rent one for this event. Single guests are encouraged to attend and the evening promises fun, new friends, and refreshments.
Be sure to check the website for more information regarding all services and gift certificate options. Horse Play Rentals is where a love for horseback riding is discovered, a place where the excitement can easily continue and your destination for an unforgettable experience in Orange County, California.
Therapeutic Riding Center of Huntington Beach
Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center
18381 Goldenwest Street, Huntington Beach, CA
“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
The Therapeutic Riding Center of Huntington Beach (TRCHB) provides an incredible opportunity for many residents in the Orange County and Los Angeles communities. TRCHB is located inside the beautiful Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center and offers life changing experiences for children and adults five days a week.
Since its inception, TRCHB’s core vision is to provide people with physical and developmental challenges, the opportunity to discover self-confidence and regain self-reliance through miraculous therapies involving horses. Founder David Allen, along with a group of dedicated volunteers, saw the need to provide meaningful horse relationships and services in the form of Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies. The Center was founded in 1990 and has grown tremendously to become certified through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH).
PATH is a voluntary, peer-reviewed accreditation process that acknowledges superior achievement in therapeutic riding and excellence in safety standards. TRCHB is proud to have achieved the status of a nonprofit organization and home to one of the only two PATH locations in Orange County.
TRCHB has been a life changing experience for many families looking for alternative therapies and fun activities for children, youth, and adults. TRCHB specializes in therapeutic session for persons with disabilities including autism, muscular and skeletal diseases and disorders, vision, and hearing impairments. The low-cost riding services provide the equity needed to service all communities and enables the essential development of a spirit that helps students overcome anxiety and create motivation.
The Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center is a tranquil and serene environment conducive to relaxing therapy sessions or a much-needed self-confidence boost. Some equine research has proven the benefits of this alternative treatment strategy and encouraging results are measured in developmental strength, improved speech, and cognitive advances. Unlike traditional therapies, riding horses exercises the entire body at once. Goals of confidence, trust and motivation are miraculously achieved through the relationship a rider and horse can build together. The most invaluable benefit is the combination of fun and empowerment the rider experiences.
TRCHB offers weekly classes that are approximately 45 minutes in duration and therapy is based on the individual rider’s needs. Students are of every age and skill level. Lessons are provided in a group format and private lessons are also available. TRCHB encourages the whole family to watch and sometimes participate in lessons. Volunteers are an imperative part of the Therapeutic Riding Center of Huntington Beach and those interested are encouraged to become a part of this wonderful family. TRCHB holds mandatory New Volunteer Training once a month and is perfect for those passionate about horses and committed to giving service to those with disabilities.
Donations are always needed and encouraged to continue the outreach of these incredible programs and more information can be found at the TRCHB website.
26282 Oso Rd, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Reveal Equestrian offers every level of horsemanship and equestrian riding. The equestrian services include recreational riding, competition, and lessons. Located in San Juan Capistrano, their core focus is a strong commitment in giving riders support, knowledge of horse fundamentals, and growth at every level guided by patient and experienced trainers. Reveal Equestrian has a program for every level of rider from recreational to competitive. Reveal Equestrian wants to ensure that every rider and student has a wonderful experience and a greater passion for horses.
Coaches and trainers make the environment fun and stress free with an open communication platform based on honesty. They genuinely want to make this a memorable experience or a successful leap into a serious equestrian sport.
This facility has access to scenic trails along Trabuco Creek and has state of the art training fields. Programs at Reveal equestrian include classes on nutrition, dressage, eventing and many more that are customizable to fit your needs. You will also be introduced to other Orange County equestrian communities and exciting events such as show jumping. Reveal headliners are Apollo, a grey gelding with a level head and patient with beginners, Tres Magic the small pony for smaller riders, and Hoot, with tons of jumping experience. He’s the big guy in the stables.
Country Trails and Riding School (located inside Irvine Park)
1 Irvine Park Rd, Orange, CA 92869
Irvine Park is much more than a huge park with a big lake and train rides. Imagine access to over 500 acres of protected wilderness park on horseback. Country Trails and Riding School is an Orange County favorite place for horseback riding trails and riding lessons. It is an ideal location because you can do both activities in a park filled with fresh air, breathtaking scenery framed by groves of Live Oaks and Sycamore trees. It’s common to encounter deer, hawks and peacocks along the nature filled trials. They also offer birthday parties, bachelor and bachelorette, reunions and more.
The staff at Country Trails is dedicated to making your special day fun and memorable. Country Trails also offers English and Western riding lessons for beginner and intermediate rider levels, and cool summer camps. Children become fascinated when they learn the cues to communicate with their horse while mounted and handling the horse in the barn. If you are looking for a no pressure show barn where you can enjoy lessons at your own skill level and pace, then Country Trails and Riding School can be the perfect place for you.
Fun With Horses
4449 Carbon Canyon Rd., Brea
El Rodeo Stables, Brea
(949) 285 5286
(619) 445 4057
Fun With Horses is a complete equestrian riding experience located at El Rodeo Stables, in the city of Brea. The program here offers horseback riding for individual and group riding lessons with a traditional approach to basic riding skills, horsemanship, grooming, and safety.
Besides catering to beginners, Fun With Horses also provides accelerated programs for the serious rider needing lessons more than once a week. Fun With Horses is home to gentle horses and all riding is held in fenced arenas.
They don’t offer trail rides, but they do offer birthday parties, scout programs, Buckaroo Time, Home School, and field trips. Birthday parties are their specialty and host an amazing two-hour party that includes horse-related activities and a one- hour ride for up to ten children. Cheryl, an experienced trainer, and approved Boy Scout merit badge counselor can help you with achieving your badge requirements and goals. All lessons are by appointment only.
Coaches and trainers are accessible directly by phone or email, refer to the website for more details. They make it easy to schedule and answer all your questions. Looking for something unique, Fun With Horses has a unique summer camp that is half day for children ages 4 to 12 yrs. Little Buckaroos can hike, ride, and participate in cool crafts.
Sabo Eventing and Newport Mesa Riding Center
Orange County Fairgrounds Equestrian Center, Gate 9
905 Arlington Ave., Costa Mesa, Ca
Sabo Newport Mesa Riding Center is in a familiar location for OC residents, the Orange County Fairgrounds. Along with riding lessons, Sabo offers Eventing and Pony Club Training. The mission of Sabo Eventing is to motivate and inspire riders to become better horsemen through education and a deep understanding of equine welfare. Sabo Eventing instructors teach essential training principles for riders and provide coaching that progress towards competitive goals at the highest level.
The core focus of both the Newport Mesa Riding Center and the Newport Mesa Pony Club is horsemanship and education. Riding lessons at the Newport Mesa Center are relaxed and every level of experience is welcome. The Newport Mesa Pony Club offers riding lessons, summer camps and educational programs geared toward children of all ages. The mission of the Pony Club is to develop character, leadership, confidence, and respect for the equine community.
The Newport Mesa Riding Center is home to a diverse riding group. The students include children, college-age riders, and adult amateurs looking for programs that are relaxing, rewarding and offer great exercise benefits. All riders at Newport Mesa Riding Center learn from hands on experiences that concentrate on classic and correct equitation from nationally ranked instructors. The instructors, using the Sabo System, can take a rider from a beginner level to advanced level easily.
There are also horses available for lease. The first riding lesson at Newport Mesa is always a private one, ensuring the student rider receives a proper program introduction and skill level assessment. It is an enthusiastic training atmosphere with professionally equipped stables. The Sabo Eventing and Newport Mesa Riding Center is a great option for hobby horseback riding that may lead to remarkable competitive opportunities.
Horseback Trail Rides & Lessons Near OC
2606 Hollister Street, San Diego CA
Pony Land is much more sophisticated than it sounds, a heck of a lot more. Yes, you will find cute little ponies for a toddler birthday party and even a pony carousel that just adds to the party magic. However, the level of riding lessons, trail experiences, and upgrades will impress you. After your visit, you might be so captivated that you set your sights on buying your very own quarter horse from this family owned and operated ranch.
Located minutes from Downtown San Diego, Pony Land is the premier horse ranch that has truly earned its reputation for scenic horse-riding trails and unforgettable beach tours. San Diego is a huge tourist destination that is associated with amusement parks, sport stadiums and soft sand beaches. It is very much worth the drive from Orange County, and it is faster than finding a parking spot at the Big Mouse House.
Pony Land describes itself as a relaxed facility easy for riders of all ages and levels. They specialize in nervous little ones and adults who have never been up close to a horse outside of a small-town parade. Ponyland refers to their ranch as laid back, and trainers as simple horse people, but there is nothing rudimentary about the different horseback riding trails or riding lesson packages offered.
San Diego is not only home to gnarly waves; it is home to the only beach that lets you ride horses on it. Pony Land Ranch has direct access to the impressive Tijuana River Valley Trails. And offers incredible Beach Shore Sea Ride tours. Imagine riding along the breaking waves spotting dolphins and seals enjoying the sunshine just as much as you are.
The Riverbed & Jungle Ride is a serene option that leads you through the white sand river valley, shaded by Wild Nasturtiums, and offering majestic ocean views. Pony Land levels up their Sea Shore Beach Ride and Nature Preserve tours by offering them at sunset. Can you imagine the image of a bright, orange Sherbert SoCal sun beginning to set? What an amazing option for that special occasion. Do you want to treasure the moment forever or have a surprise picnic ready? Ponyland offers a photography package that will capture all the magic and have romance waiting for you with lighted candles.
Riding lessons and package pricing is on the website as well as all the marvelous horseback riding tours. Pony Land recommends booking online and takes riders out seven days a week. No experience is necessary for these trail rides, just a love for California wildlife and the spirit for adventure.
Palos Verdes Stables & Palos Verdes Horse Rentals
Outside of Orange County, Palos Verdes Estates is a city in Los Angeles situated on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. It is a coveted city that is located along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean. If you are looking for an equestrian facility that rivals the majestic views of SoCal, then the Palos Verdes Stables and Palos Verdes Horse Rentals should make the top of your list.
The Palos Verdes Stables is a full-service facility dedicated to complete excellency for horse and rider. The premier stables offer trail rides, summer camps, boarding, Dressage, Western, and Hunter and Jumper programs catered to all experience levels. The trainers of these comprehensive equestrian programs are World Cup Finalists, National Champions, and industry icons. These prominent instructors welcome riders of all ages from the inexperienced beginner to the high-level competitor.
Highland Farm is the Hunter/Jumper training program here and it is curated for each rider and horse combination. Trainers are patient, talented and experienced in coaching recreational riders of all ages. If your aspiration is to become a hunter champion or an international show jumper, Palos Verdes Stables can help you achieve your dreams. The programs here are fun and of the highest standard providing a professional approach.
Lessons can be admired from a family comfortable gazebo close by. There is even a family recreation room where parents and smaller kids can retreat to. This first-class facility features a new tack room equipped with a washer and dryer.
Boarding at the Palo Alto Stables is a luxury with three new charming barns that can accommodate fifty horses. Riders and horses will have access to three new large turnouts, new cross ties, and warm water wash racks.
Palos Verdes Horseback Rides and Trails offer breathtaking ocean views and incredible scenic landscape. Trail riding is available seven days a week and open every day except Christmas. Guided trails are safe and use healthy, reliable horses that are accustomed to beginning and advanced riders. No riding experience is necessary to enjoy these serene trails in Palos Verdes.
Guided trail rides can be 45 minutes or one-hour rides. Riders must be at least 6 years old and the weight limit is 250 pounds. If you have small children 5 and under, there are wonderful 20-minute pony rides led by an experienced guide. Pony rides are a magical and memorable introduction to horses and riding. All trail guides are experienced and can lead up to 10 riders at a time. Booking online is encouraged and for more than 10 riders please contact the stables. If you are looking for more adventure, Palos Verdes Trail Rides offer a 90-minute trail ride along the coastal peninsula.
Birthdays are even more special on horseback. Start your celebration at Palos Verdes Horse Rentals on a birthday party trail ride that is fun and safe. How cool will it be to invite 10 or more of your friends and blow out the candles! Are you looking for a corporate VIP experience or memorable group event? You can also book a special guided trail tour not visible by car.
If you are unable to commit a full week to the Palos Verdes Summer Camp schedule, then check out the unique ‘holiDAY” camps for kids. Children will learn about the horse world in a fun and hands-on opportunity at all camps programs. Fundamentals in horse riding, safety, and proper horsemanship will be introduced in a creative and entertaining approach. Children will be closely supervised by talented and experienced camp staff. Visit the website directly for more details. An advantage of the camps here is the extended amount of one-on-one riding instruction for each student with access to both trail and ring instruction. Get your riding boots ready! All of you!
MCCS Camp Pendleton BLDG 15016
San Luis Rey (across from The Paintball Park) Oceanside, CA
Hours of Operation:
A fantastic option for South Orange County residents is the Stepp Stables located inside Camp Pendleton. It features competitive pricing and the facility is a haven for horse loving Marines, veterans, and their families. Military families and the public can enjoy riding lessons, boarding, special events and summer camps.
Stepp Stables’ namesake is Sergeant William F. Stepp, a 20-year post stable manager and Korean War veteran and Bronze Star with Combat “V” recipient. Stepp Stables offers affordable riding lessons, horsemanship, and some of the best trail riding in San Diego. One-hour lessons with privately owned horses or “school” horses are for ages 7 and up and private lessons are offered for ages 3-6.
The instructors are experienced, energetic, and patient providing guidance and encouragement to all levels of riders. Trainers are proficient is providing instruction in all disciplines for beginners to advanced riders. Private or group lessons are one hour and include saddling and cool down time. Training must be paid in advance and must be by appointment only.
Trail rides at Stepp Stables are scenic and relaxing where riders can appreciate the beautiful scenery, San Diego sunshine, and coastal fresh air. Camp Pendleton has scenic hills tail rides for novice groups and challenging trails for the more confident rider. Riders must be at least 7 years old to participate in trail rides and reservations are required in advance.
There are also 15-minute lessons for Teenie Tots ages 3-4 and Tiny Tots 30-minute lessons for ages 5-6. These gentle classes are private and a super first step for young riders. Classes teach the important foundations of responsible horsemanship and are tailored to the rider’s age and ability. This is a great start for learning grooming, saddling, balance, and basic commands for the horse.
The magical Pony Birthday Party is also available at Stepp Stables. These stables are a super option for scout groups and youth organizations. You are encouraged to call the stables directly for more information. Boarding access is 24 hours and the facility features many advantages: three arenas, pasture boarding, wash rocks, turnouts, three round pens, Mare Motels, tack room and automatic water and fly spray system. Stepp Stables offers the most bang for your buck and is a complete facility benefiting Marines, veterans, and their families. Horses and San Diego? What a perfect pair!
Sunset Ranch Hollywood
3400 N. Beachwood Dr. Los Angeles, CA
How many times have you been to the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Like most residents in Orange County, the answer is probably several years ago when friends from out of state begged you to join them or your in laws decided to visit several summers ago. If you are looking for a much-needed break from Hollywood Blvd. and all its commotion; go horseback riding just a few minutes away. Where else can you get a magnificent view of the Hollywood Sign and not be stuck in traffic?
Sunset Ranch is in the Hollywood Hills, has access to hundreds of miles of incredible natural trails, and offers a rare 360-degree view of the Los Angeles mountains. Sunset Ranch Tours is a convenient side excursion if you’re planning to visit other tourist spots nearby because they offer walk on trail rides at a first come first served basis. High up in the Hollywood mountains you can choose the Mulholland Trail Tour for 1 hour through the Hollywood Hills and get a remarkable view of the LA Basin and the Hollywood Sign.
The Mt. Hollywood Trail Tour is a 2-hour ride through the hills of Griffith Park. Spectacular views of Downtown Los Angeles, the Griffith Observatory, and of course the iconic Hollywood Sign can be admired from this 5,000-acre park in the heart of Los Angeles. This trail ride is exciting because it is through the steep hills of Griffith Park. The Mt. Hollywood Evening Tour is even more spectacular as you witness the most striking sunset.
There is no other location that offers such beautiful mountainous terrain and world-famous landmarks. The trails are safe, wide, and experienced horses walk at a relaxed pace though these majestic mountains. You will always have one or more guides with you out on your trail. All riders must be at least 8 years old and a must weigh under 240 pounds. Private rides are also available. Experienced riders can be challenged and beginners can have a slow and easy introduction into horseback riding. Lessons are also available and if you can’t imagine riding anywhere else, you can continue your lessons in these beautiful mountains.
Sunset Ranch Hollywood offers an incredibly unique setting for that once in a life time wedding proposal. The proposal package includes a two-hour private ride to the top of Mt. Hollywood where the highest point of Griffith Park can be the back drop where you pop the question.
Sunset Ranch can make your birthday extra special with a party package and the optional add on of little minis. Little minis are ponies, pigs, and donkeys that will show up to your party in their birthday suit to help you blow out your candles. The birthday party will include a 30-minute lesson and a 1-hour easy tour. Don’t worry if you forgot the birthday gift, gift certificates are also available at Sunset Hollywood Farms. Refer to the website for more details.
Sunset Hollywood Ranch also offers boarding for horses including specialized care. Be sure to bring a little extra cash or have your Venmo ready for the wrangler’s tip if you feel like they did an exceptional job. It is Hollywood after all and maybe the next time you see your wrangler, they will be on the big screen!
Orange County Equestrian Centers & Stables
Anaheim Hills Riding Club: 6352 East Nohl Ranch Road, Anaheim, CA 92805
Coto Equestrian Preserve: One Equestrian Preserve Rd, Coto de Caza, CA 92679
El Rodeo Stables: 4449 Carbon Canyon Rd., Brea, CA 92823
Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center: 18381 Goldenwest St., Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Ivy Gate Farm: 28411 San Juan Creek Road, San Juan Capistrano, California 92675
Nellie Gail Ranch Equestrian Center: 25202 Nellie Gail Rd, Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Orange County Fairgrounds Equestrian Center: 905 Arlington Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Ortega Equestrian Center: 27252 Calle Arroyo, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Ortega Mountain Ranch: 31521 Rancho Viejo Rd #101, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Peacock Hill Equestrian Center: 1 Irvine Park Rd, Orange, CA 92869
Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park: 30753 Avenida La Pata, San Juan Capistrano, CA, 92675
Rancho Sierra Vista Equestrian Center: 31441 Avenida De La Vista, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Sycamore Trails Stables/Bridges Equestrian: 26282 Oso Rd, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Here is a huge list of horse boarding stables, private barns and facilities in Orange County and nearby.
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Cindy is an OC native fond of PCH road trips to places like Santa Rosa or Carmel. She’s a mother of three spending her free time baking apple pies, cooking green enchiladas, and listening to 80s music. She’s a beach girl at heart and Cancun is her go to paradise.